ATTENTION CHALLENGE PARTICIPANTS

2015 Editions of the Color Coded , Mount TBR and Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenges--as well as Read It Again, Sam (due to popular demand)-- have been posted. I am also introducing my newest brain-child: Super Book Password. Please check it out!

As in the past, I will post sidebar links for sign-up posts as well as review headquarters once the new year begins.


Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Maltese Falcon: Review

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm not a hard-boiled, private eye, noir-ish kind of girl. Philip Marlow, Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer, Michael Shayne, Sam Spade and their fellows just don't really do it for me. At least not in print. The Maltese Falcon film with Humphrey Bogart? Love it. In fact, if I'm gonna do hard-boiled, private eye then I generally prefer them on screen....and in black and white, please. But I gotta give Dashiell Hammett credit. That man could write. And I now know why (beyond Bogey) I loved the movie....because so much of the dialogue was lifted right off the page. And Hammett's dialogue is absolutely right for this story. There are other reviewers that said that one annoyance with having seen the movie before reading the book is that you have Bogart's and Lorre's and Greenstreet's (etc) voice in your head when you read the dialog. I would say that one of the great things about having seen the movie before reading the book is that I have Bogart's voice in my head. He was absolutely perfect as Spade and I think it really helped me get over any lurking qualms I had about hard-boiled noir to have had the visual experience first. One of the rare instances when the movie got things right.

So...for those of you who have never seen the movie or read the book...here it is in nutshell. Sam Spade is a well-worn, world-weary private eye in San Francisco. He's approached by a woman who says she wants a man named Thursby tailed because he's run off with her younger sister. Spade's partner, Archer, agrees to do the job and gets himself killed for his good deed. Thursby winds up dead as well and Spade finds himself knee-deep in plot and counter-plot as the woman changes her name three times, various shady characters show up--all thinking he's got the goods on a mysterious black statue of a bird, and the police seem to think Spade's more deeply involved in the killings than is healthy for him. Spade has to fast-talk his way around suspicious cops, wily criminals, and gorgeous dames in order get out of this one with his skin whole. He also has to figure out who's side he's on...and who, if anybody, is on his. And just what is the limit of things people will do to get their hands on this fabled falcon?


Fast-talking, high-drama, action-packed mystery. A strong, flawed detective. A mysterious woman with more curves than a mountain road (and that's just in the stories she's feeds to our hero). A terrific read...and that comes from someone who doesn't enjoy the genre. If you've seen the movie, but haven't read the book--you should. If you've read the book, but haven't seen the movie--you should. Great stuff in both formats. Four stars.

8 comments:

neer said...

Your review captures the novel very well. Love it.

Geoff said...

Your review made me a little less disgruntled toward Dashiel Hammett. I read The Thin Man for book group and was not impressed. The movie adaptation was good, but not quite what I expected.

Bev Hankins said...

Geoff: My mission in life...to lessen the "disgruntle." :-)

Red said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed this one (and that a lot of the movie dialog is from the book). I have this on my queue to read for a reading challenge and was a little hesitant how it would be.

ShaReKay said...

Great review and right on! I love the movie AND the book, but yeah I can't help but hear Peter Lorre's voice in my head when I'm reading.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Absolutely right Bev, though I live the Hammett book (and hardboiled literature come to that). The Bogart movie does pretty much just fillet the novel's scenes and dialogue and then transfer them more or less verbatim to the screen - and does it beautifully. I would never put Spillaine's Mike Hammer books with such classy authors as Chandler and Hammett though, never, ever!

Bev Hankins said...

Sorry, Sergio. But I look at all hard-boiled books with the same jaundiced eye. ;-)

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

So glad to read your review, as I'm getting ready to read this as well! I'm finding that I like some of this crime fiction though.. so now I'm really itching to get to that book.